Archive for Employment Law
June 19, 2012
As a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer who also deals with sexual harassment cases, Edith A Pearce has found recent developments in the case between the Philadelphia Housing Authority and former chief Carl R. Greene to be quite interesting. As part of this lawsuit, the fact that Greene has paid off three women for sexual harassment claims is becoming relevant in the defamation lawsuit he has filed against the PHA.
Initially, one of the women, Carolyn Griffith, was willing to testify in the defamation case. However, Greene’s attorney claimed that the testimony in the sexual harassment case was not relevant to the defamation case and should not be allowed as evidence. However, the Judge disagreed. “Sexual harassment allegations are relevant,” U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter wrote in an order, allowing Griffith to testify against Greene. , yet her testimony was being kept out of the courts. In a recent ruling, judge Buckwalter ruled that it should be entered into the courts as part of the case. Greene’s attorney also tried to keep Griffith’s testimony from being covered by the public press. However, Judge Buckwalter would not allow a secret testimony, making her coming testimony totally public and fully admissible. Griffith has been threatened with “appropriate action” if she testified by Greene’s side, according to PHA attorneys. Because of these threats, Griffith failed to appear for a deposition. Buckwalter’s order prevents these types of threats as well as any other action that would prohibit Griffith from testifying.
This case shows that accusations of sexual harassment are something to be taken very seriously. This is why it is so important to have a capable attorney on your side when filing these types of cases. Our firm is ready to help you if you feel you have been the victim of sexual harassment, so call us today to schedule a consultation.
For more information about a sexual harassment case, contact a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer at The Pearce Law Firm.
Posted in: Employment Law
May 24, 2012
In late February, federal appeals court allowed a case against Merrill Lynch from a group of 700 African-American stock brokers to go forward as a class action lawsuit. A lower court had ruled earlier that the case should not be treated as a class action suit.
The opinion, which was unanimous from the three-judge panel in the Seventh District Court of Appeals in Chicago, stated that the plaintiffs had sufficient stakes to pursue individual lawsuits against Merrill Lynch, but that keeping the case as a class action suit would decrease its complexity. In the class action suit, the determination of whether or not anti-discrimination statutes were violated only has to happen once. If the cases were handled individually, this would be determined 700 times, and the results could be different for each plaintiff. A Philadelphia personal injury lawyer or employment discrimination lawyer would generally recommend this type of class action lawsuit. See more here.
This decision goes against a precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court in Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Dukes. In this earlier case, the Supreme Court denied that a class action lawsuit was appropriate. The reason for this denial was that the discrimination in question was not the fault of Wal-Mart as a corporation, but rather the fault of individual store managers and other staff.
In the Merrill Lynch case, it was corporate actions that were the reason behind the discrimination, not the actions of individual managers. That is why in the second case, the judges ruled a class action lawsuit was appropriate.
This case points out one important fact. Previous cases are not always the exact precedent for the case you are facing. That is why it is so important to work with a skilled, qualified legal team, like a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer at The Pearce Law Firm. Call us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your personal injury or discrimination case with a qualified attorney.
Posted in: Employment Law
November 16, 2010
Three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court could result in a precedent-setting verdict with serious ramifications for federal antidiscrimination laws, says Philadelphia employment discrimination attorney, Edith Pearce, Esq.
— A U.S. Army Reservist in Illinois has filed a discrimination suit against the hospital where he worked for 11 years. Vincent Staub claims he was fired because his supervisor resented absences required by his Army Reserve duty, a violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act. The hospital says Staub’s military service was not a consideration in his termination and that he was fired for failure to complete tasks and poor attitude on the job. A federal district curt agreed with Staub and awarded him $58,000 in damages; however, the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the decision.
— Kevin Kasten claims the plastics firm he worked for fired him for complaining about the illegal placement of a time clock.
— Eric Thompson claims he was fired in retaliation for a discrimination complaint filed by his fiance, an employee at the same company.
Philadelphia personal injury attorneys who specialize in workplace discrimination law say the combined cases seek to expand worker protection from employer retaliation when the employee or someone close to him angers the boss. The Supreme Court will hear the three cases together.
Legal analysts are debating the possible outcome of these workplace discrimination cases. While Chief Justice John Roberts has a record of being pro-business, the court has made a point of upholding the law, as opposed to legislating from the bench, the practice of some previous courts. Philadelphia employment discrimination attorneys say it is likely that the justices will uphold the numerous federal and state laws that protect workers’ rights against discrimination, but nothing is certain.
If you have been discriminated against at work or unfairly terminated, contact a Philadephia personal injury attorney with proven employment discrimination expertise. That’s why you should always turn to the Pearce Law Firm.
Posted in: Employment Law
October 14, 2010
2009 turned out to be a big year for Employment Law in Philadelphia and every other part of the country. 2010 is proving to be just as dramatic. In 2009, the first bill signed into law by President Obama was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, extending the time limits on which an employee can sue for discrimination. Also in 2009, Congress passed COBRA assistance, for unemployed workers in need of health insurance. Congress also passed expanded provisions for military family leave. Meanwhile, workers with disabilities enjoyed broader protections under an amendment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADAAA), while in another arena, rules against employment discrimination based on genetic Information were set down with the Genetic Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). For 2010, the employment laws for Philadelphia and the rest of the country are no less formative.
Among the most anticipated bills in 2010 is the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), which adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of unlawful discriminations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII. Labor unions are in the spotlight, as well, in 2010. The Employee Free Choice Act is being considered in Congress, which seeks to allow employees to form or partake in labor unions with protected rights. Employee leave rights are yet another top order of business, with several bills in process, including the Healthy Families Act for paid sick leave.
The list goes on. Other issues in the mix include employer and employee Internet rights, enforcement of classifications between employee vs. Independent Contractor – and of course, the complex issues around healthcare reform. How the fast-paced, unfolding national drama interacts with and impacts Philadelphia employment law requires diligence from the most experienced Philadelphia employment law lawyer. Click now to contact us today.
Posted in: Employment Law
July 13, 2010
Credit discriminationis the new elephant in the room. Workers already struggling to stay afloat in the difficult economy can find their jobs in jeopardy if they have a poor credit history, particularly if they hold a sensitive job or one involving money management or money handling. Debt and bad credit are causing 39 Defense Department workers across the country to lose their jobs at the end of July. While a government spokesperson denied that bad credit is the only factor in the firings, terminated employees charge that credit and debt problems loom large in the department’s decision to let them go. However, according to Philadelphia Employment Lawyer Edith Pearce, this discrimination may not be actionable in Pennsylvania.
Government agencies whose employees handle sensitive documents say debt and poor credit issues place workers at greater risk of temptation. The concern, of course, is that workers will sell sensitive data as a way to end financial woes. While the potential threat to national security may drive the practice in government settings, the concern is not limited to government agencies. The finances of those who hold business positions that involve financial management, bank positions, even retail cashiers are under increased scrutiny. With foreclosures and bankruptcies on the rise, there is concern that employees will be tempted to embezzle funds from employers to make up personal shortfalls.
It’s made for a suspicious work environment that has many crying foul. Consumer advocates complain that workers who most need their jobs to get out from under credit problems are finding their jobs threatened because of their poor credit histories. It’s a vicious cycle from which some workers see little hope of escape.
However, discrimination based upon poor credit may not be illegal or actionable. State and federal laws generally only prohibit employers from discriminating against persons (employees and potential employees) on the basis of race, age, color, sex/gender, national origin, disability, religion, and pregnancy. In certain states and cities, including New Jersey and Philadelphia, sexual orientation is also included. Generally, unless you have been discriminated against due to one of the above reasons, you may not be able to bring a lawsuit. Pennsylvania and most states are “at will employment” states. Thus, the employer can hire and fire for many reasons, unless that reason is due to one of the protected areas of the law (e.g., race, age, color, sex/gender, national origin, disability, and religion).
If you feel you have been discriminated against on the job and need legal advice to determine if you have protection under the law, a lawyer at the the Pearce Law Firm with expertise in employment discrimination can review your case and explain your rights.
Posted in: Employment Law
December 1, 2008
On November 5, 2008, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed into law a new ordinance amending the Philadelphia Code, entitled “Unlawful Employment Practices,” now adding a new chapter titled, “Entitlement to Leave Due To Domestic or Sexual Violence.” As a Philadelphia Employment Lawyer for many years, I often receive questions on when someone may take off of work for a period of time and still have their job protected. Most people are familiar with The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a federal law that allows employees to take a leave of absence — without losing their job — because of their own or an immediate family member’s medical condition or other family responsibility such as the birth of a baby or an adoption. However, the FMLA does not specifically cover leave due to domestic or sexual violence.
The new Philadelphia law takes effect on January 5, 2009 and requires employers with 50 employees or more to provide up to eight weeks of unpaid leave annually to victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking, or their qualifying family or household members. The law provides up to four weeks of leave if the employer has less than 50 employees. Employees may take this leave for the following reasons: to seek medical attention for physical or psychological injuries; obtain help from an organization that provides services to domestic or sexual violence victims; obtain counseling or therapy; make safety plans, including possibly relocating to increase safety; or to seek legal assistance. The Ordinance protects an employee’s job and benefits during the leave and prohibits retaliation against employees or interference with leave rights. Like the FMLA, an employer can require an employee to provide documentation of the domestic or sexual violence and the reason that why the employee must take the leave. However, all information provided to the employer must be kept confidential.
Although this Philadelphia ordinance only provides up to eight weeks of unpaid leave as opposed to the FMLA which provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave, the new ordinance is similar in requiring employers to restore the employee to his or her original position or an equivalent position with equivalent benefits once returning from leave. The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations has helpful information about this new ordinance on its website.
If you are the victim of unlawful employment practices such as sexual harassment, discrimination, or violation of your FMLA or other rights, you should contact Edith Pearce, an experienced Philadelphia Employment Lawyer.
Posted in: Employment Law